Caring for an aging or ailing loved one is never easy – but throw in a fulltime job, kids of your own, and a busy household, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed fast. 

Nearly half of all caregivers have trouble balancing work and caregiving, and 20 to 40% of them suffer from depression. But just because you’re a caregiver doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live a life of stress and burnout. It’s possible to care for a loved one without sacrificing your physical or mental health.

Ask for and accept help

Caregiving is tough work. What makes it tougher is that many caregivers don’t ask for help or accept it when it’s offered. Why? Caregiver’s guilt. They fear that by admitting the toll caregiving is taking on them, it’ll seem like they don’t care about their loved one’s wellbeing. 

Caregivers can overcome their guilt by focusing on the primary goal: keep their loved one safe, happy, and healthy. If you can’t achieve this goal because you’re stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, or burned-out, then it’s time to ask loved ones in your family and circle of friends for a little help. 

Start by asking for help with the mundane tasks of everyday life, like cleaning and laundry. When you’re comfortable getting help from others, it becomes easier to ask for help with heavier tasks like administering medication

Know your limits

Caregivers tend to underestimate how long something will take; this is a recipe for stress. If you overbook and overschedule yourself to the point of feeling frazzled by noon every day, your health will suffer. Take a good long look at your schedule and do your best to overestimate how long things will take. If you end up with a few free minutes, you can easily fill them, which is better than scrambling to get too many things done in too little time.